28 December, 2006

Billingham - Christmas at home

Ah Billingham, where I grew up and had my first proper job! It has the distinction of being one of the Idler's cr*p towns, but this ignores the subtleties and nuances of the place. Firstly there is a saxon church, remodelled in early gothic times and in the 20th century, which just goes to show that nothing much happened there between the 13th and 20th centuries. Then it all happened at once. In 1926 Imperial Chemical Industries took over an ammonia plant and built an estate of houses for staff (via a housing Association). Then in the 1950s and 60s the Council built an entirely new town with a leisure centre and a technical college (demolished) a shopping centre (not what it was) and hundreds of council houses (mostly sold). Then in the late 60s Moore and Cartwright (builders) built a private estate opposite the new town centre. This was completed by 1970 and a new estate built by Wimpey and Yuill in the building boom of the 1980s.
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27 December, 2006

Saltburn by the Sea

Saltburn, named after the small salt river that runs near the original village. The original village has a public house and small collection of fishermens/smugglers/wreckers cottages. This was and is quite isolated under cat nab and the main cliff.

All this changed with the coming of the Railways and development on the cliff top of a fashionable new resort for the ironmasters of Middlesbrough. The development was funded by the directors of the Stockton and Darlington Railway Co. who were mainly industrialists in the Darlington and Middlesbrough area. There were no pubs in the town (as these would attract riff raff), so the drinking had to be done in hotels where a higher class would gather. The streets leading down to the sea were also named after jewels, which shows a bright and sparkly vision of a clean town in the fresh sea air.

The railway led directly into the porch of the Zetland Hotel (Lord Zetland - not the islands) but this hotel overlooked the valley gardens and not the sea. The hotel is now flats and apparently Danny La Rue has one of them. There is also the Club and Institute Union Convalescent Home no doubt chosen for its restful location.

Of the seaside attractions there is a truncated pier with a very small amusement arcade. There is also a hydraulic cliff lift (summer only), but as a seaside resort where anyone would want to spend more than a couple of hours saltburn doesn't really cut the mustard.
The pictures show the cliff lift

The former railway station

and a view of the new town from the end of the pier.

Perched precariously on the cliffside is a cottage called Teddy's Nook. Legend has it that Lily Langtry 'entertained' King Edward VII there when he stayed at the Zetland Hotel. Although I doubt he ever visited Saltburn.

12 December, 2006


A not too bad trip to Manchester for a Co-operative Action board meeting. Poor journey with delays on Sunday which is always my bugbear about Manchester, also the fact it's a dirty hole. Didn't see much touristy but the inside of the Remnant pub.

10 December, 2006

The countryside of East Sussex

I visited brighton for the day to visit co-op stores around the country towns of East Sussex, Polegate, Hailsham and Heathfield. These were very fine stores. We followed this up by dinner at the Brighton municipal pub, The Sportsman, at the Brighton and Hove Albion ground.

I arrived at the station just as the last train was pulling out, therefore had to stay in the Royal Albion. My nice room had a jacuzzi bath, which I made full use of. In the morning I went to Manchester but that's another story.